Unanimity was the name of the game for the ASUO Student Senate Wednesday evening as they moved quickly through a light agenda during their weekly meeting in the EMU Walnut Room. With Sen. Evan Thomas taking over the chair for the evening, the body dispensed quickly with a $4000 special request from the Multicultural Center and the confirmation of Katherine DuPont to the open At-Large seat on the Programs Finance Committee, both by votes of 12 to zero.
The MCC made its request to help pay for the upcoming appearance of noted civil rights activist Angela Davis. The MCC had already raised $5000 of the funds necessary to pay Davis’ honorarium, a figure which included donations from the Women’s Center and the ASUO Executive. After minimal discussion, the request was unanimously approved. Davis will appear on Saturday, January 22, at 7 p.m. in Columbia Hall, room 150.
Senators next considered the appointment of Katherine DuPont to the PFC. DuPont had been previously appointed to Senate Seat One, but her appointment was rejected by the Senate, which later confirmed Sen. James Dos Santos to the slot. Questions about her course load and outside jobs, which had hampered her confirmation last time, were easily dispatched during this hearing. “ I plan on giving 110%. I’m here to help them,” explained DuPont.
PFC Chair Noah Wolf-Prusan told the Senate that her confirmation was important. “We really need Katherine… We need an extra body on the committee.” The PFC has been faced with two empty seats since Sen. Erin Altman’s resignation last week, putting pressure on the committee during crucial budget hearings. After making sure that her schedule had sufficient availability to accommodate the work of a PFC member, DuPont was confirmed unanimously.
The Senate then discussed potential revisions to the model by which stipends are allocated to ASUO officials, including Senators, Executive staff members, and others. While a number of senators thought a raise was in order, many were also open to the idea of an altogether new way of paying those working in student government. “We should definitely look into a tuition discount model,” said Sen. Janet Brooks, discussing a system wherein students within the ASUO would be provided with reduced tuition, instead of cash payments, in exchange for their service.
Many were concerned that the current stipend level was pricing students out of the opportunity to serve. Others, such as Sen. Kristina Harding, were worried that such an increase in compensation would cause a significant increase in the Incidental Fee. The concept was left open, to be returned to at a later date. After quick updates from officers and committees, including Sen. Chris Bocchicchio’s announcement that he intends to challenge the Constitution Court’s proposed rearrangement of constituencies for academic senators, the meeting was adjourned early , marking a second week running that Senate did not run over its allotted time.
A scheduled confirmation hearing for Lamar Wise, appointed to Senate Seat 10 (DFC), was postponed after it was discovered that the forms had not been filed in time.
Meeting Duration: 93 minutes (zero recesses)
Money allocated from Surplus: $4000
Not present: Sedgley, Powell, Schally
Resignation Count: Six
Not much to say here. I thank the Senate for their generous gift of a full night’s sleep, though it would seem to me that the speed with which the meeting progressed can be, in some way, attributed to Temp Chair Thomas’ relatively less stringent adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order. I won’t speak to the validity of that approach, it’s just sort of interesting to see that within the ASUO, an organization which usually values Robert’s Rules above the Bible.
I’ll admit it; I’m not an Angela Davis fan. I saw her speak at OSU when she was there a few years ago. She came off as being annoying at least and anti-American at most. I’m guessing her speech here will be similar to her address at OSU, and I know for a fact I will not be in attendance this Saturday.
As for the PFC appointment, Wolf-Prusan was right; PFC needs another member right now. Pretty much anyone with a pulse, a vague awareness of viewpoint neutrality and a clear schedule is a perfect fit. I don’t know if it was because they had been over it with her last term, but no one seemed to want to ask DuPont about viewpoint neutrality, a very important facet of life for finance committee members. She said during the meeting that she was intending to run for this very seat in the next election, so it will be interesting to see how she performs in the interim and if she will join a slate for the election.
For usually being staunchly conservative, I was surprised to see Sen. Kaitlyn Lange leading the charge to crank up stipends. I like the idea of a tuition discount model; it fairly directly addresses the issues that resigning Senators have been raising as motivations and costs less than putting Senators (and others) on a wage scale. The question is going to be how to pay for it. I think the university administration should foot the bill, because the alternative is, as Harding pointed out, a massive increase in the I-Fee. However, Vice-President Maneesh Arora pointed out that this approach runs the risk of the ASUO losing control over its own pay.
I think that a possible alternative is to research and negotiate a percentage of tuition reimbursement, reflective of the amount of tuition the student occupying the position is paying (to accommodate out of state students and part-timers), and incorporate that method of compensation and that percentage into the Clark Document. This will prevent the need for rewriting the stipend model every time tuition goes up, as the actual compensation will always reflect an set portion of actual educational costs. If there’s something I’m missing here that would throw this little plan off, please leave a comment letting me know.